REVIEW by John Atkinson | Aug 24, 2022
Although Danish company Audiovector was founded in 1979, I had very little experience of its loudspeakers, other than at audio shows (footnote 1), until I measured the Audiovector R 8 Arreté that Jim Austin reviewed in May 2021. Jim nominated the R 8 as his “Editor’s Choice” for 2021, writing that “The gorgeous-looking Audiovector took me by surprise, doing things with imaging that I’ve never heard another loudspeaker do (like hearing a bass note directly behind another bass note).” Jim concluded that the R 8 “is a complicated speaker that sounds simple, sweet, and coherent.”
At $75,000/pair, the R 8 Arreté—second from the top in Audiovector’s R series—is an expensive speaker, so it should offer superb sound quality. I think it was Laurie Fincham of THX, then with KEF, who told me more than 40 years ago that the challenge for an engineer is designing a loudspeaker that offers high performance for a low price. Audiovector’s QR 7, which was formally introduced at the 2022 High End Munich show, costs less than a tenth of the R 8’s price—just $6500/pair.
Audiovector’s founder, Ole Klifoth, is today the company’s R&D manager; his son, Mads Klifoth, now runs the company, as CEO. I was told that Ole and his staff spent 24 months on the design of the QR 7, working to incorporate Audiovector’s “unique family DNA” in a loudspeaker that’s significantly more affordable than any in the company’s R series.
The QR 7 is the flagship of Audiovector’s QR range. It is a relatively large, three-way tower, standing almost 45″ high. All the enclosure’s surfaces are finished in a real-wood veneer. The cabinet is raised about a half-inch above a black, rectangular base plate by four cylindrical feet. A downward-firing rectangular port at the front of the cabinet’s base reflex-loads two 8″ woofers. These woofers use sandwich cones made from two layers of aluminum on either side of a damping material. The drivers lack dustcaps but have substantial half-roll surrounds; Audiovector says the drivers feature “Pure Piston Technology,” which allows them to operate in their passband “without the distortion normally found in aluminum/diamond drive units.” The woofers cross over to the 6″ midrange unit at 425Hz, which is mounted above them. This driver, too, uses a “Pure Piston Technology” aluminum-sandwich cone. All three of the lower-frequency units use “low-hysteresis” voice-coils, large magnets, and “rigid turbulence-suppressing” baskets.
The rectangular Air Motion Transformer tweeter at the top of the front baffle takes over above 3kHz. A rose-colored, gold-plated dispersion mesh in front of the diaphragm is said to control sibilants; Audiovector calls this mesh an “S-Stop filter.” Audiovector emphasizes that it engineers its drive units in-house before subcontracting their manufacture. Such careful engineering is necessary partly because Audiovector employs first-order, 6dB/octave crossover filters, which means the drivers must be well-behaved beyond the crossover frequencies, which won’t necessarily be true for bought-in drive units. Electrical connection is via a single pair of binding posts at the bottom of the QR 7’s rear panel.
Made in Denmark
Given the QR 7’s competitive price, I wondered whether, like many loudspeaker models in this price range, it was made in China. However, both the QR 7’s manual and packaging say “Handmade in Denmark,” while the plate on each speaker’s rear panel says “Designed and Engineered in Denmark by Audiovector.” I asked Audiovector’s Brand Manager, P.J. Zornosa, for clarification.
“Actually, the assembly is in Copenhagen,” he replied. “Some components, eg, cabinets, are made elsewhere. We polish the cabinets, test, manufacture [the] crossovers, provide measured amounts of dampening in Denmark.” P.J. went on to explain that because more than 50% of the labor and components involved in the QR 7’s manufacture are local, Audiovector is authorized by the Danish government to label the loudspeaker “Made in Denmark.” The terminal plate indicates that both speakers were assembled by “SKS.” (footnote 2)
The main source of music was my Roon Nucleus+ server feeding audio data over my network to an MBL N31 CD player/DAC, which was connected to a pair of Parasound Halo JC 1+ monoblocks. The Audiovector speakers were single-wired with AudioQuest Robin Hood cable. I didn’t use the QR 7s’ magnetically attached grilles.
Determining the optimal positions for the QR 7s took longer than I expected. I started with them located where the Q Acoustics Concept 50s, which I reviewed in the August 2022 issue, had been, but this resulted in exaggerated low frequencies. I moved them farther out in the room to where the Wilson Alexia 2s, which I reviewed in February 2018, had worked best. While this gave a relatively even low- and midbass balance, there was now too much upper bass. I ended up with the loudspeakers’ front baffles 88″ from the wall behind them, the center of the right-hand speaker’s baffle 52″ from the books that line its closest sidewall, and that of the left-hand speaker 43″ from the LPs that line its sidewall. These positions gave the smoothest transition from the low bass through to the lower midrange.
Optimal top-octave balance was obtained with the speakers toed-in directly toward the listening position. With the QR 7 fitted with its carpet-piercing spikes, its tweeter is 42″ from the floor, significantly higher than the 36″ height of my ears when I am sitting in my listening chair. When I listened to the dual-mono pink-noise track on my Editor’s Choice CD (Stereophile STPH016-2), the tonal balance acquired some upper-midrange emphasis and a slightly nasal quality when I raised myself so that my ears were level with the tweeters. At my normal ear height, the upper midrange sounded full but with a smoother transition to the low treble. (Interestingly, there were virtually no differences in the quasi-anechoic frequency responses on the two axes—see the Measurements sidebar.)
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